Green-tech innovations for the hipster lifestyle (pictures)

Technology has a home in hipster-ville, especially when it's environmentally friendly, local or green.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
1 of 13 Julian Melchiorri/Dezeen/MINI

Breathing leaf creates oxygen

Living the green-hipster life isn't all about retro tech. You can have the latest environmentally friendly innovations and still keep your hipster cred.

The breathing leaf is a man-made, biologically functional leaf that absorbs carbon dioxide, water, and light and then gives off oxygen. While much has been made of its potential use in space, the designer of the breathing leaf sees it having a place on buildings or inside homes on Earth.

The breathing leaf is far away from being a commercial product, but that shouldn't stop the green hipster from planning ahead. Go ahead and start thinking about what you could DIY with this. Perhaps you could create a cozy for your entire house out of leaves or modify a vintage jacket and cover it with the green material. You would be a breath of fresh air everywhere you went.

2 of 13 Upstairs Shop

From vinyl to your beard

"You comb me right round, baby, right round like a record, baby, right round round round." Don't expect the band Dead or Alive to rehash their hit pop song to work with the Grably beard comb.

The comb, from Estonia-based retailer Upstairs Shop, is meant to tease your luscious hipster beard into shape. Plus, it's made out of old vinyl records, so you're also recycling because nobody was going to listen to that scratched-up copy of "Disco Duck Dance Party" anyway.

3 of 13 Dandycan

Sustainable headphones built to last

Beats by Dre just aren't the right kind of look for a discerning hipster. What you really want is a retro-modern set of headphones with a sustainable message attached.

Dandycan headphones are made from materials like cast aluminum and leather. The cable is wrapped with fabric, so it looks like a mini version of a vintage guitar cable. Dandycan's marketing talks about how these headphones are built to last and not end up in the trash like so many cheap, plastic headphones. The ear cans can be taken apart and recycled should they ever reach the end of their lifespan.

Dandycan didn't manage to meet its fixed-funding goal on Indiegogo, but you can still imagine how good Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend MP3s would have sounded through the headphones.

4 of 13 Farmer's Fridge

Farm-fresh vending machine

No self-respecting hipster would be caught dead buying a Butterfinger from a vending machine, but a local organic salad is another matter.

The Farmer's Fridge vending machine provides organic meals in a jar with a focus on salads made with fresh ingredients.

The machines are already up and running around the Chicago area. The green-hipster cred doesn't end with just the offerings inside. The machines themselves are made with reclaimed barn wood. The packaging is all biodegradeable and the napkins are recycled paper. It's delicious, nutritious, and you won't be embarrassed to be seen buying a snack from one.

5 of 13 Bonhams

110-year-old electric car

Hipsters like retro things, like record players, typewriters and Buddy Holly glasses. You can't get much more retro than a 110-year-old car that also satisfies the urge for environmental friendliness by being an electric car.

This Woods Queen Victoria Brougham sold at auction in 2015 for more than the price of a new Tesla. This particular car was retrofitted with a fast-charging system and lightweight batteries to assist its electric motor. The real wood accents will look great with your skinny jeans and Black Keys shirt.

6 of 13 Andy Wekin

Pedal-power your laptop

Yes, it's possible to work on a computer and be pretty much off the grid at the same time. Pedal Power is like a cross between a stationary bike and a work desk. Hipsters with strong fixie-trained legs can use Pedal Power to generate energy for running a laptop or smartphone.

Pedal Power powered past its funding goal on Kickstarter in late 2013, thanks in part to the sweet chrome design of the Big Rig, its flagship pedal-powered desk. Even better, Pedal Power is making its plans open-source, a big attraction for the DIY subculture of hipsterdom.

7 of 13 Focus Designs

Self-balancing unicycle goes electric

Hipsters and unicycles go together like vintage bowler hats and tweed vests. Unicycles are quirky, and, when used for regular transportation, decrease your environmental footprint. Perhaps the ultimate tech-enabled unicycle is the SBU V3 from Focus Designs.

SBU stands for "self-balancing unicycle." It's a battery-powered unicycle that zooms you around and helps you balance at the same time. The electric power helps you zip along, but you still get the head-turning appearance of riding a unicycle. Plus, it looks great with a vintage Pendleton flannel shirt.

8 of 13 Skinnyfatties

Slim down your old neckties

Step into any hipster enclave on a fancy-dress night and one thing you won't see are fat, '70s-wide neckties. Skinny ties are the preferred choice, but it doesn't mean all those old retro ties with cool patterns have to end up in the ironic fashion bin at the local thrift store.

Skinnyfatties is a service that takes old ties and trims them down into slimmer versions. It's the perfect way for a hipster with a favorite piece of neckwear to get more use out of the accessory.

9 of 13 Teague

Ultimate urban utility bike

The preferred mode of hipster transportation in a highly urban area may be the fixie, but there's no reason you can't invest in a truly high-end and high-tech bike with enough quirky features to satisfy your desire for individuality while still doing a solid for the environment by keeping a car off the road.

The Denny bike, a collaboration between design firm Teague and custom-bike company Sizemore, recently won the Bike Design Project and was crowned "Ultimate Urban Utility Bike." Denny features a rectangular handlebar that also acts as a lock. It has storage in the frame, turn signals, automatic lights and a front-wheel motor for a boost when you need it. Fuji will be producing the retail version of the bike in 2016, with pricing and availability not yet set.

10 of 13 GE Reports

Factory-farming lettuce

Hipsters tend to congregate in urban environments, but they still have a love for eating local and supporting regional farmers. There's a new way to bring vegetables into the heart of the city and it's been pioneered by a plant physiologist in Japan.

Shigeharu Shimamura transformed an abandoned factory into an inside lettuce farm equipped with LED lights from GE. The controlled environment creates ideal growing conditions that reduce waste. Factory lettuce could become the hot new localvore product to place in the storage basket of your fixie.

11 of 13 Draw Attention/Emilia Gaston Photography

Blackboard your laptop

Hipsters are often very technology-savvy. There's no reason the latest smartphone or laptop can't meld well with selvedge denim, a beige scarf and a fedora. That laptop takes on a new purpose when you outfit it with a blackboard vinyl decal from DrawAttention.

DrawAttention calls it "so hipster you'll immediately want to write the names of your favorite craft beers on it." It's a fun hipster-riffic mashup of new technology and old-school chalk-writing. And you'll save paper since you can just erase and rewrite as needed.

12 of 13 Samsung

Go, go green Galaxy

Not every hipster can get by with a rotary-dial telephone. Sometimes a smartphone just makes sense. Forget iPhones...too popular. How about a Samsung Galaxy S4? Wait a minute, you say, that's not even the latest Galaxy model. Exactly! It's retro!

What qualifies this is a green-tech buy is that the Galaxy S4 was certified by TCO, a group that evaluates gadgets based on factors like environmental friendliness and social consciousness. The S4 was the first smartphone to earn this designation, making it a ground-breaker.

So go ahead, get a previous-generation Galaxy and load it up with some Mumford and Sons. It's no antique candlestick phone, but at least it will feel a little greener than the competition.

13 of 13 BioLite

Kettle power charges gadgets

Many hipsters enjoy a good cup of tea. We're not talking Lipton here, but rather custom-blend chai, Pu-erh, or white darjeeling. Forget electric kettles, too. A proper stove-top kettle is the way to go. The BioLite KettleCharge doesn't have the burnished look of a vintage copper kettle, but it does charge your gadgets thanks to a built-in thermoelectric generator.

Hipsters with an interest in urban homesteading who want the ability to live off the grid, but still enjoy things like tablets and smartphones, could get a lot of use out of the KettleCharge.

A typical morning would go like this: Get up. Put the KettleCharge on. Collect the eggs from the backyard chickens. Power up your smartphone with the KettleCharge. Enjoy a cup of jasmine pearls tea. Hop on your SBU V3 and go to work in a converted brick factory growing vegetables. You're off to a great start.

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